NONWESTLIT (2021-2026) is a project funded by the European Research Council (ERC) focusing on a comparative study of cultural reforms, linguistic renewal and literary renaissance movements in three imperial traditions, caught between the East-West divide: Russia, the Ottoman Empire and Japan.

This project looks at the negotiated cultural models in modernization and westernization processes and argues that their shared historical experience resulted in a common intellectual vocabulary and narrative models shared by otherwise extremely diverse cultures. We aim to develop a comparative model, drawing a polycentric and plural map of literary modernity.

In three subprojects, we investigate structural similarities in

  • Questions and concepts in literary criticism
  • Translational practices and translated works from Europe
  • Narrative logic and typologies in fiction

The project is the first comparative multilingual study of the non-Western literary modernities to bring these specific traditions together. It follows a multi-method research strategy to conduct historical and literary comparisons between the emerging national literary systems, combining qualitative and quantitative methods in order to map transnational networks of narrative strategies, conceptual systems and translation practices. With this project, we hope to bring new directions in Digital Humanities, expanding it to non-Western and multilingual comparative research. Finally, we plan to make a much-needed contribution to the current literary corpus by making unknown and untranslated texts available and accessible.

NONWESTLIT in a nutshell